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Friday, December 02, 2005

Intro to the broadcasting treaty

I've been following the news on the proposed broadcasting treaty but I haven't been blogging it. The news is voluminous and mostly off-topic for OAN. But here's the best short description I've seen of the treaty and its implications for OA.

James Love, A UN/WIPO Plan to Regulate Distribution of Information on the Internet, Huffington Post, November 30, 2005. Excerpt:

What is proposed is as follows. Any web page operator who makes any combination or representations of “images or sounds . . . accessible to the public . . . at substantially the same time,” would be granted a new right, to authorize or prohibit anyone from copying the data, or republishing or re-using the information in any form. This may sound like copyright, but it’s not. This new “webcaster” right is something that would apply to public domain material, and it would apply to works that are copyrighted, even if the webcaster is not the copyright owner, and does not even have a license to use or to restrict access to the copyrighted work. What this means is this. If you download a file from the Internet, you would have to get the permission of the web page operator before you could republish the data elsewhere. This permission would be in addition to any permissions you would need from the actual copyright owner, and it would even be required if you are seeking to publish something that was either in the public domain under copyright law, or that had been licensed for distribution under something like a creative commons license. This new “webcaster right” would be automatic, and come also with a whole set of new requirements to enforce technological protection measures (TPM) and digital rights management (DRM) schemes on Internet transmissions. The webcaster would have an ownership right in the information for 50 years, and the 50 year term would start new with every transmission of information....Academics like Jamie Boyle from Duke note that the co-existence of different legal regimes in different countries provides for a natural experiment. Is the Rome "broadcasters' right" needed to stimulate investment in broadcasting? Obviously not, he notes, given the health of broadcasters in countries like the US....WIPO will convene meetings in April and June to debate this issue, and then decide by September 2006 if a diplomatic conference on the new Rome+ broadcaster treaty will be scheduled, and if they will consider treaty provisions for “webcasting.”...In the words of the treaty critics, the treaty proponents are guilty of piracy of the knowledge commons. They are seeking to claim ownership rights in works they did not create, and which today they do not own. They want something different from copyright, and different from the legal regime that exists in any country. They want to own what they simply transmit. And this will be quite harmful to the Internet.

For more details, see the CPTech page on the broadcasting treaty.